Definition of lance in English:



  • 1A long weapon for thrusting, having a wooden shaft and a pointed steel head, formerly used by a horseman in charging.

    • ‘Around me were swords and arrows, lances and spears, weapons of all kinds, even ones I had never seen before.’
    • ‘Men of the armies fought with double-edged swords, battle-axes, lances, slings, and weapons of archery.’
    • ‘Sir Anthony held the crown out on the tip of his lance.’
    • ‘Seventy-five thousand horsemen armed with long lances came crashing out of the woods.’
    • ‘They wore chain mail into battle, used a lance, sword or mace to fight with and rode horses that were bred to carry such a weight at speed.’
    spear, pike, javelin, bayonet, shaft
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A weapon resembling a lance used in hunting fish or whales.
      • ‘He could sink that harpoon 3 feet into a whale and once fast it was not long before he was on the whale's back driving the lance 6 feet into its vitals.’
      • ‘The harpoon is a metal lance that is blasted out of the ship's harpoon gun by old-fashioned black powder.’
      • ‘Stubb takes after it in the process of pitchpoling; with a long lance, connected to a length of rope, he darts the whale, then pulls the lance back, and repeats the process.’
    2. 1.2
      another term for lancer
  • 2[usually with modifier] A metal pipe supplying a jet of oxygen to a furnace or to a hot flame for cutting.

    • ‘In the open hearth process an oxygen lance is arranged to blow large volumes of oxygen onto the molten metal in the hearth.’
    • ‘The specific areas of the sample selected for ablation are subjected to a burst of laser light, which acts like a microscopic thermal lance, to vaporise a tiny spot on the surface just 0.02 millimetre wide.’
    • ‘Five basic processes are involved: oxy fuel gas cutting, metal powder cutting, chemical flux cutting, oxygen lance cutting, and oxygen arc cutting.’
  • 3A rigid tube at the end of a hose for pumping or spraying liquid.

    • ‘The water to the lance is maintained at a high pressure, resulting in a powerful, fast jet of water.’
    • ‘This is one of those things where you drop a coin in the slot and then use a brush and a power spray, both on long lances attached to pressure hoses.’
    • ‘The liquid nitrogen injection station consists of a liquid nitrogen lance, which is moved in and out of the ready-mix truck drum using a pneumatic cylinder.’
    • ‘A pneumatically operated ball valve controls the flow of liquid nitrogen through each lance, and the entire process is sequenced from a pushbutton control panel.’
    • ‘He had borrowed the jet washer from his brother Alfred, who told the inquest he had modified it by replacing a plastic lance with a metal one.’


  • 1 Prick or cut open with a lancet or other sharp instrument.

    ‘abscesses should not be lanced until there is a soft spot in the center’
    figurative ‘the governor made it one of his priorities to lance the boil of corruption’
    • ‘Because supplies were scarce, doctors did not have anesthetic to numb this patient before lancing a boil that had been causing him problems for more than a year.’
    • ‘They also calculate that by lancing the boil now the issue will soon be over with.’
    • ‘I told the parents that the infant was very ill and the abscess should be lanced.’
    • ‘The checkpoints come every 12 miles or so and provide an opportunity for walkers to change clothes, eat, lance blisters and brush your teeth (it really helps).’
    • ‘Suggested treatment for small, intact blisters is to remove the blister contents by needle aspiration or to lance the blister at its base but leave a pedicle of attachment.’
    • ‘The pustule was lanced and cultured and subsequently grew Haemophihis species.’
    cut, cut into, make an incision in, slit, slit open
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Pierce with or as if with a lance.
      ‘the teenager had been lanced by a wooden splinter’
      [no object] figurative ‘his eyes lanced right through her’
      • ‘I turned to Luke, looking down at his beautiful, sleepy face and feeling a stab of pain lance through me.’
      • ‘He felt a jolt of fear lance through his gut but managed to keep his voice level.’
      • ‘One of the animals has already been lanced and is about to fall to the ground.’
      • ‘There General Patton's American armour lanced its way into Nazi-held territory while the Brits fought a slower-paced battle into the Rhineland.’
      • ‘To the west the clouds appeared black and rolls of thunder boomed like familiar cannon fire while lightning lanced the empty ground.’
      • ‘A hissing sound escaped the creature as burning heat lanced his palms.’
      • ‘Other arguments against same-sex marriage were similarly lanced by the judge.’
      • ‘He lanced each patron of the tavern with his soul chilling gaze, brown and gray flecked hair framing his face.’
      • ‘Ten days after the poppy blooms the resin is extracted by lancing the pods.’
      • ‘At the bottom, she jumped up and felt pain lance through her right knee.’
      • ‘Slowly, stubbornly ignoring the excruciating pain that lanced my spine, I turned my face toward the wall.’
      • ‘‘Go ask the boy,’ you mutter, lancing Michael with a cold glare.’
      • ‘She smiled, but a pang of sorrow lanced her heart.’
      • ‘That team was distinct from the fluid, fleet-footed one that lanced Livingston the week before.’
      • ‘When Newton had the institutional authority to do so, he lanced some of his colleagues ferociously and mercilessly.’
      • ‘To harvest opium from a poppy, a farmer waits until the last petals of the flower have fallen off and then lances the seed pod, taking care not to cut too deep.’
      • ‘According to local legend, the killer whales would even guide the tiny whale boats out to the hunt so that the whalers could harpoon and lance the harassed animal.’
      • ‘‘But I did’, she said, a bitingly anxious tone lancing her own thoughts.’
      • ‘Too late, he saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, and felt a stinging pain lance along his back.’
      • ‘And I now have the breathe control to lance two fish on the same spear with one breathe of air.’
    2. 1.2[no object]Move suddenly and quickly.
      [no object] ‘pain lanced through her’
      • ‘Her footsteps echoed loudly as she shuffled across the foyer, dimly lit by the beams of moonlight lancing across the shiny floor.’
      • ‘Carpenter motioned Matthew and Smith to enter first and they did so, their gun-mounted lights lancing through the remaining dust suspended in the dry, stale air of the passage.’
      • ‘He ducked down as two more shots lanced past him.’
      • ‘He began firing wildly, his silenced rounds lancing out, and hitting the wall all around the terrorists.’
      • ‘Soft candlelight from the hallway played upon the slumbering girl, shining on her hair, and lancing off her stark, milky-white shoulders.’
      • ‘Suddenly, red laser beams lanced out from underneath the window.’
      • ‘Sharp beams of sunlight lanced through the lush foliage, acute needles on her bare shoulders.’
      • ‘A buzzard dropped down to watch, a heavy twin-rotor helicopter thudded over, a jet lanced through, and a gamekeeper rolled past in a 4x4, that was the traffic for the day.’
    3. 1.3literary Fling; launch.
      ‘he affirms to have lanced darts at the sun’
      • ‘The lights have twinkled on in Lucern, spread below us, lancing golden shafts into the lake.’
      • ‘This is made evident by the fact that young Protestant girls from neighbouring schools also joined in the protest as they lanced verbal assaults at their Catholic peers.’
      • ‘The torpedo-boat lances one of her horrid needles of steel.’
      • ‘Carmen takes a flower from her corsets and lances it to Don Jose (Duet: ‘Talk me of my mother’).’


Middle English: from Old French lance (noun), lancier (verb), from Latin lancea (noun).